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Merlin’s New Keel Tastes Saltwater

Merlin in the sling, ready to be splashed. The banner on the side reads, "Fast is fun."

© 2016 Transpac 2017

Like Latitude 38 itself, Bill Lee’s 68-ft Merlin is pushing 40 years old. The mighty sled’s initial launching coincided with our first issue and was covered therein. We’ve always had a soft spot in our heart for Merlin so were thrilled when Bill Lee bought her last October and had her trucked home to Santa Cruz from the Great Lakes. Lee’s intention is to sail her in the 2017 Transpac. Bill and Merlin set the Transpac record in 1977 and held it for 20 years.

Designer Bill Lee’s adventures with Merlin began when he was 34 years old. Now 74, he’s looking forward to sailing the boat in Santa Cruz, then racing her to Hawaii again in next year’s Transpac.

© 2016 Jeremy Leonard / Transpac 2017

The first project was to replace the modern canting keel with a fixed one. After much searching for something appropriate, Lee finally had a new one built from scratch. The keel has been installed, the boat reassembled, and the rig stepped. Yesterday, Merlin was launched in the harbor at Santa Cruz, and the new keel tasted saltwater for the first time.

Before installation, Merlin’s new keel posed for a picture.

© Transpac 2017

Jeremy Leonard shot a video interview with Lee at the dockside, and we’ve shared it on our Facebook page,

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Windyty’s graphical representation of this morning’s storm on the Northwest coast. © Windyty If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, you’re no doubt getting pounded by the first of three powerful storms sweeping across the Pacific.
On Saturday, October 22, Women Who Sail is having a reunion meeting at the pool at La Cruz Inn that will include all the original speakers from the very first meet-up there in February 2014.